How to Detect a Plumbing Slab Leak and Your Repair Options
What is a slab leak?
To understand what a slab leak is we first need to cover some basics to understand the term. A slab is another word for foundation which stabilizes and gives your home form. Often under your slab there are pipes for plumbing that control heating, water, sewer, what have you. If one of these pipes begin leaking this is referred to as a slab leak. Often, the water will travel through the slab and into your home.
Why Is It Important to Understand This?
Slab leaks can be extremely expensive because of their nature. The slab leak can become large and from that cause a lot of damage over a large area. Another common problem is that a slab leak will often go unnoticed and by the time it becomes apparent the damage may already be done. That is why it is important to catch them before they have the chance to cause damage. For a look at other types of leaks see our article “Plumbing Leaks, What Is It Really Costing You?”
Some signs of a slab leak include: sounds of running water when the water isn’t on, cracks in walls or flooring, mildew or moisture under carpets, and higher than average water bills.
Detecting a Leak
A good way to check if there is a leak is to perform the meter test. This test is simple enough that you can do it in 30 minutes to an hour. First you make sure that there is no running water on your property. Then you check the water meter and write down the number, after 30 minutes if there is no change than you are in the clear. However if it has increased you need to turn off the valves under all of the toilets in your house. At this point write down the new number and wait another 30 minutes. If the numbers have not changed then you have a toilet that needs to be serviced. Yet, if the numbers increased again than you have a water leak somewhere and will need to have it further checked out. If any of these are happening to your home you should contact a professional plumber to inspect your property. Some plumbers detect a leak is by employing electronic amplification equipment or electromagnetic pipeline locators. These methods are non evasive and do not physically harm your property.
There are a few common options if you do find that your home has a slab leak. These options include: Spot repair, repipe or reroute, or epoxy pipe coating. With a spot repair, the plumber will find where the leak is and open up the slab to repair the leaking pipe. It is ideal for a newer or more recently constructed home. The second option of repiping involves replacing the entire pipe that leaked, which is better for older homes. Finally, epoxy pipe coating is a coating method that goes through the plumbing itself. This is a common method for systems that have smaller leaks that appear more frequently throughout the pipe. The repair process should take less than a week depending on how intense the slab leak is.